Vietnam to inspect taxis in Hanoi, HCMC

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The Transport Ministry stated Friday taxi companies in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City will be inspected, following a case in which a taxi driver overcharged two Singaporean guests of an Interpol meeting in Hanoi, newswire VnExpress reported.

Nguyen Xuan Hao, the ministry's chief inspector, said inspectors will search for wrongdoings by taxi companies and drivers, such as overcharging or installing fraudulent meters.

Hanoi has 114 taxi companies with more than 16,000 cars, while HCMC has only 36 companies but with more cars than Hanoi, he said.

Later this year, an inspection into the operation of 12 taxi companies in Hanoi and nine companies in HCMC will be carried out, according to Hao.

On November 4, Hanoi police arrested Pham Van Xam, a 22 year-old driver of Phu Gia Taxi Co., on charges of "robbery" and "illegally appropriating properties of others."

According to police, on October 28, Xam forced two Singaporean customers to pay him more than US$200 and SGD100 ($78) for a 10-kilometer ride.

Xam reportedly seized the wallet from the hands of the customers and took their cash, while the meter showed the ride cost only VND140,000 (US$6.6), according to VnExpress.

He also drove the taxi away after realizing the customers forgot their iPhone 4 on the seat.

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The case attracted public attention after the two Singaporean visitors told police that they were participants in the 80th General Assembly of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) held from October 31 to November 3 in Hanoi.

Local media claimed the case may affect Vietnam's image, prompting police to search for the taxi driver.

Xam was arrested while hiding in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong, more than 1,000 kilometers away from Hanoi.

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